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Winery OH&S benefits through intervention

The Australian wine industry is being helped to improve its occupational health and safety through an intervention campaign.

The nationally consistent auditing strategy for wine producers focuses on five major hazards — manual handling, body stressing, being hit or hitting objects, working at heights, and hazardous plant.

Already four States have completed audits (Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia).

No breakdown figures are available yet from three States, however, in South Australia 43 audits were completed and over 400 notices were issued.

Senior inspector from Workplace Services’ Primary Industries Food & Beverage Manufacturing team, Frank Dal Santo said those who took part in the SA audit had been very positive, even though the number of notices served was high. The most common area of concern had been working at heights and also machine guarding.

“It was a fairly stringent audit,” he said. “There has been a good record and we aim to keep the bar high. That way everyone benefits,” Dal Santo said.

Now, the SA project is set to enter another phase with Safe Work 2005 during late October. A highlight will be a wine producers ‘Walk & Talk’, focusing on machine guarding at St Hallett Wines (Tanunda, from 10am to 11.30am on 27 October) when wine industry personnel will have the chance to talk directly to engineers about guarding tipping bins, rotary fermenters and augers and a range of safety issues.

Dal Santo said the Walk & Talk was designed to offer practical solutions for the workplace. He said that people could follow the examples set by St Hallett or adopt a system that better suits their individual needs.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne said a number of inspections had been undertaken by WorkSafe in the Margaret River wine region, and all of these inspections resulted in improvement notices being issued.

"Our inspectors looked at wineries in the Great Southern and Swan Valley in order to cover all the main winemaking areas in WA."

The national intervention campaign for wine producers is being undertaken in all States, using the same checklist. The aim of the strategy is to pinpoint the areas of concern and then present the results to the wine industry in each State. "One of the areas of concern our inspectors have identified is confined spaces such as wine tanks,” Lyhne said.

"In addition to an apparent lack of appropriate systems of work for confined spaces, inspectors have been concerned at the lack of edge protection or fall arrest systems for the tops of wine tanks, which can be up to nine metres high,” she said.

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